My experience with record stores in Hungary has been pretty non-existent. Mostly because I’m never compelled to go into places that have Jonas Brothers or Guns ‘n Roses posters in the window. I may be judgmental, but you can (and should) judge a record store by its cover, and quite frankly the High School Musical soundtrack isn’t even on my radar. let alone the riffraff that might lie alongside it in a record shop with such terrible taste. For these reasons I’ve just about given up on finding any decent record store in Budapest, but after spotting Laci Bácsi's Record Shop, hope returned.

Look at this place. The exterior is perfectly painted, no blemishes or graffiti, the metal gate always hangs over the windows to stave off even the thought of a late night break-in. The outside is about as inviting as a prison and gives you an idea about the guy running the place, none other than Laci Bácsi himself.

Record collectors tend to be anal, bordering on obsessive-compulsive and Laci’s no exception. His presence is downright intimidating. Sure he might be a nice guy if you get to know him, but the tension in the air alone had me choking on and fumbling over my words upon his annoyed and disinterested inquiry if I needed any help.

Normally record stores (in the US at least) have mountains of unorganized records scattered about, falling from their sleeves and in all sorts of conditions. Not here. Every LP is perfectly baggied, priced, and in near-mint condition. There’s not a single record haphazardly out of place—an anomaly if I’ve ever seen one.

His categorization is nearly impeccable, evident in the militant organization of the store as well as in the searchability of the online catalogue. He’s got things labeled to a "T" - Czech Beat, Polish Jazz, Eastern European Progressive, the obvious vast Rock section, even a lacking Punk selection that encapsulates the predictable (Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned). The world music sections are the standout qualities here. His collection of 1950s French Pop is great and includes plenty Édith Piaf LPs. Leonard Cohen has a strong presence, even if the prices marked seem a bit steep. And there’s plenty of the Smiths and Morrissey for the “in-touch with your feelings” crowd.

To any foreigner, well at least myself, this place is a gem that you’d have to scour the span of the USA to find. It might be near impossible to pick up old communist-era Hungarian Avant-garde LPs anywhere else, save for maybe eBay. Even if you’re without a turntable, or aren’t even into records, just browsing through all the remarkable album art that you’re not likely to come across anywhere else is worth your time, especially if you’re looking for artistic inspiration of any sort.

Music nowadays is disposable. Downloading is killing what used to be known as record sales, but is too easy to not do it. To me vinyl is the only thing that’s going to save the music industry, so Laci should breathe easy, he’s got a good thing going. It’s just a question of whether Budapestians are catching on.

Laci Bácsi's Record Shop is located at Kertész u. 42, just across from Hummus Bar. It’s open Monday-Friday from 12:00-19:00. Official site (including map) and more info here.

Jacob P.

What's that? Gyros. Looks like a kebab to me. Yes, it is, they call them gyros here. Have you ever wondered what's in it? Well, it's meat and salad in a pitta, isn't it? Is it? Isn't it?

Gyros takeaways are everywhere in Budapest. They serve at any time. They're cheap. So what's the catch?

You're going to die! (No kidding.)

My name's Andrew and I used to be addicted to gyros. I gave it up about 6 months ago and I've never looked back. [Applause.] I called them gyrosh, for a while, thinking that Hungarians did that. They don't. I never thought they were healthy. It's just, at 4 o'clock in the morning, when the alcohol abuse stops, the stomach remembers its primary purpose, and there aren't that many alternatives.

I gave up gyros because I came to notice that, more often than not, I didn't like it very much. For a while, I thought I was just getting a dud here and there, and it's certainly true that quality varies. But I eventually realised that when I was kind-of sober, and the meat was chicken, it was just too greasy; and if the meat was, well, whatever the brown one is, it was just too... not that much like meat.

Which raises the question: what is the brown one exactly; the 'meat' gyros? I mean, it goes without saying that anything called 'meat' without specifying which meat, could be anything. But perhaps it's not that they don't want to tell you but rather that they can't!

Not surprisingly, I'm not the first to consider this; click here for more extensive research.

The final straw was that Andy T kept going on about this article in The Guardian. Just in case you can't be bothered to follow the link, the key phrase for me was:

"Eating two a week could cause a heart attack within 10 years."


Now, that's a worst case scenario, clearly, and one relating to someone who eats "pie and chips and fried breakfasts as well." Now I'm not that big on pies but I do occasionally have a fried breakfast. How many years does that give me, I wonder?

Sorry gyros, we can't be friends anymore.

Igen, I think you heard me right. I said, "Szeretnék egy falafelt!"

Andy Sz.


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